Audio

Spotify, Smart Speaker Maker?

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Spotify, Smart Speaker Maker?

The Guardian reports one of the biggest music streaming providers is going to enter hardware-- Spotify is currently looking for employees to make "category defining" hardware products.

The job adverts state Spotify plans to create a hardware category "akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo and Snap Spectacles." One position at the streaming provider posted back in April 2017 is for a senior product manager able to “define the product requirements for internet connected hardware [and] the software that powers it," while other, more recent, adverts have the company looking for an “operations manager,” “senior project manager: hardware production,” and “project manager: hardware production and engineering.”

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James Loudspeaker Offerings at ISE 2018

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James Loudspeaker Offerings at ISE 2018

ISE 2018 hosts a number of products from décor-friendly audio manufacturer James Loudspeaker, including LR-S 2.1 soundbars, the 42SA-4 in-ceiling/in-wall speaker and new Omni Planter speaker systems.

The LR-S 2.1 soundbars produce left- and right-channel audio, as well as bass from a centre-mounted built-in subwoofer. The soundbars are customisable to fit nearly any flat-panel display, and while originally designed for commercial applications they have been adopted for residential applications demanding audio without need for surround sound.

Currently available in the SPL5, SPL6 and SPL8 series soundbars, the LR-S versions offer high output and bass extension below 60Hz from nearly any size form factor. The 2.1 configuration makes the soundbars ideal for matching with the A2.1 three-channel amplifier, which features onboard crossovers and independent controls for easy calibration.

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Statista: Smart Speakers Getting More Popular

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Statista: Smart Speakers Getting More Popular

Judging from a Statista chart smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo are becoming increasingly popular, at least in the US-- 39 million Americans own such a device, and more people use them to access news, information and music.

The chart is based on a November 2017 survey of 806 smart speaker owners conducted by NPR and Edison Research. It shows around 66% of smart speakers owners do not want to go back to life without the "little helper," while 39% are spending less time using the radio. This is perhaps not surprising, since listening to music (in many cases online radio) is one of the most commonly used features of the devices.

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Klipsch Puts Google Assistant in Heritage Wireless Speakers

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Klipsch Puts Google Assistant in Heritage Wireless Speakers

Klipsch announces the addition of a smart assistant in the next generation Heritage Wireless tabletop speakers-- specifically Google Assistant, providing voice control together with assistant functionality.

The Heritage Wireless speakers come in two flavours. The Three is a stereo tabletop with an integrated subwoofer for enhanced bass, while The One is a smaller, semi-portable tabletop speaker with a rechargeable battery. Both models feature a mid-century modern design, premium materials including a real wood veneer and copper switches and knobs, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

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Tractica: Rapid Growth for Smart Headphones

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Tractica: Rapid Growth for Smart Headphones

Smart headphones are a "new direction" for headphones and personal audio devices, Tractica reports-- one forecast to see rapid growth over the next several future, with 2017 sales reaching 5.6 million.

Such sales are a massive increase from the 833000 units sold in 2016. Furthermore, 2022 smart headphone sales are expected to rise to 13.7m, while revenues are set to reach $2.2 billion. However, despite such numbers, the analyst still points out the issues which might hamper the device category in the long term.

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The Modular Ashley Chloe Ensembl Speaker

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The Modular Ashley Chloe Ensembl Speaker

Headphone maker Ashley Chloe presents a modular smart speaker concept at CES 2018-- the Ensembl, a rose gold and cream cylinder with a series of stackable plastic discs on top.

The main cylinder making the Ensembl as as the main speaker unit, but the addition of different modules turn into nothing less than a "smart wirelessly charged home entertainment system," at least according to the company. Actual modules were not available at the show, but the Ashley Chloe says these can include a 360-degree IP camera, glowing lantern disc, Qi charging base, battery and even a pico projector.

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Apple Delays HomePod Speaker

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Apple Delays HomePod Speaker

Customers eager to get the first Apple smart speaker are to receive some bad news-- the HomePod's initial release in the UK, US and Australia has been delayed until "early 2018."

Apple does not give reason for the delay, other than it needing a "little more time" before the device is ready for launch. It is also unclear as to whether the delay will affect launch in other countries, but we can assume that will be exactly the case.

"We can't wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple's breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it's ready for our customers," the full Apple statement reads. "We'll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018."

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Sony Readies Robotic Smart Speaker

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Sony Readies Robotic Smart Speaker

Sony looks to differentiate its take on the smart speaker with a spot of cuteness-- the Xperia Hello is an Alexa-compatible number featuring a 4.55-inch display and a round, animated face.

First presented in concept form back at MWC 2016, the Xperia Hello is an Android-based device able to recognise facial expressions and gestures as well as voice through a camera on top of the swivelling "face." The camera is paired with 7 microphones and 4 motion sensors, allowing the Hello to detect people approaching within a 3m radius.

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Triby IO Speaker Supports HomeKit, Alexa

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Triby IO Speaker Supports HomeKit, Alexa

French company Invoxia announces a smart speaker-- the Triby IO, a device the company posits as a smart home controller able to handle both Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.

A sequel to last year's Triby speaker, the Triby IO features a similar design complete with a handle and small display on the front showing the time, weather doodles and messages. A magnet on the back allows customers to attach it to the fridge, while the 5 hardware buttons are customisable to control lights, thermostats or even HomeKit scenes combining multiple smart home products.

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Sonos Intros One Smart Speaker

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Sonos Intros One Smart Speaker

Sonos confirms rumours of its making a smart speaker with the One-- the first product from the company with native voice assistant support, initially via Amazon Alexa.

The One is essentially a refresh of the Play:1 for the smart speaker era. It features a cuboid design with rounded edges in either black or white, and acts as either a standalone speaker or paired with other Sonos audio products as part of a multi-speaker setup. Setup and management come through Sonos mobile app, and the speaker handles a number of streaming services, including including Amazon Music, Pandora, IHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXm.

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Parsound Intros JC3 Junior Phono Preamp

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Parsound Intros JC3 Junior Phono Preamp

Customers dipping their tones into the world of vinyl get a lower-cost phono preamplifier option from Parasound-- the JC3 Junior, a compact version of the JC3+ preamp catering for a wide range of MM and MC cartridges.

The JC3 Junior handles 50 to 550 ohm continuously, with variable MC impedance. It has a mono switch for use with older vinyl, and offers selectable gain output, gold-plated balanced and single-ended output terminals, and a 12V trigger for system integration. The S/N ratio reaches up to 94dB, while THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) is specified below 0.02%.

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